Report: Vikings stadium budget has $45M gap as groundbreaking nears

Sports Business Daily says the $975 million budget for the new Vikings stadium has a gap as much as $45 million ahead of a crucial milepost next week.

The online publication says builder Mortenson Construction is “struggling” to meet a $737 million budget for construction of the stadium itself. (The rest of the cost goes to land acquisition, design, landscaping, and non-stadium items related to the project.) Citing unnamed “industry sources.” The SBD says the builder told the Vikings it would cost $782 million to build the stadium the team and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority had in mind.

MSFA chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen told lawmakers today that the builder is scheduled to turn over a guaranteed maximum price for the project in the middle of next week. And while state officials have been firm about what they’ll pay for the project — no more than $975 million — added costs could force the Vikings and the state to cut corners and make the stadium fit the budget, rather than the budget fit the stadium.

“The bids are definitely coming back higher. There’s no doubt about it. We are working in every way to get those numbers in line,” said Kelm-Helgen, after a hearing before the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Sports Facilities at the Capitol today.

Sports Business Daily also noted that stadium and arena authorities sometimes get outside consultants or builders to review the estimates from winning bidders for a project, looking for fat to trim.

“We have no plans at this point to do that. I don’t see a need for it,” Kelm-Helgen said. “We’re just working hard to get to that guaranteed maximum price. I’m confident we’re going to hit that budget.”

In testimony before lawmakers today, Kelm-Helgen explained a $13 million addition to the financing offered by the Vikings, which could bring the overall project budget to $988 mlllion and add back in some features that are initially carved out. She offered a list of items her agency has on its contingency list, including extra locker rooms, two additional escalators and extra laundry facilities. She said other contingencies might include seating systems and other add-ons.

“The kinds of things that we’re looking at cutting are nothing significant that will impact the fan experience,” Kelm-Helgen said. “It’s nothing that people would probably even know if it weren’t pointed out in some way… in terms of using different kinds of materials.”

Kelm-Helgen said that would not include the building’s signature transparent roof.

“Don’t panic,” Kelm-Helgen said. “No lawn chairs. The design will still be the beautiful iconic building that we’re all looking for.”